Death & Chrysalids: Firaxis On XCOM, Part 2

By Alec Meer on February 2nd, 2012 at 12:18 pm.

I used to build my first base in Antarctica. That wasn't very clever of me.

In this next chunk of a mammoth chat with XCOM: Enemy Unknown‘s lead designer at Firaxis Jake Solomon, we talk Chrysalids, the death and critical wounding of your soldiers, the fanbase, why min-maxing X-COM’s not all it’s cracked up to be, the base, the geoscape and which of the original game’s aliens didn’t make the cut…

If you missed part one, that’s here. Where we pick up, Jake has just been discussing the reaction to 2K Marin’s oft-delayed XCOM shooter and what that meant for Firaxis’ strategy game.

RPS: How much were you aware of the passion and ferocity in the X-COM fanbase before the shooter was revealed; did it at all colour what you thought you could or should do on Enemy Unknown?

Jake Solomon: I can’t say that I expected it, I tried not to peruse too many message boards or anything like that because I think that at some point you could go down the rabbit hole there, but I think that certainly the passion is not a surprise and I have no problem with that. I know that some people are passionate about this aspect or that aspect and that’s not a surprise, I mean that’s not a surprise for me who plays the original game still till this day,. I don’t think any of us are bothered if people say like ‘oh, I don’t agree that they did this or did that’, I mean all it tells you is that you have something that I think people feel strongly about and that’s certainly, I know it sounds silly, but it’s certainly better than the alternative, right? I mean you release something and you say like ‘these are the things we’re doing’ and there’s deafening silence, as a designer that’s never particularly good.

I mean if you can have a conversation with fans of it and people saying ‘this is why I feel this way’, it’s truly amazing. XCOM is actually unique in the sense that I think one of the great things about the original XCOM is that when it came out I played it in high school and I didn’t have the benefit of the internet and things like that, so I wasn’t using that to look at facts or anything like that, so I played it as just a game experience. I absolutely loved it as just playing it and even not understanding all the detail of it – like you can tell like there is just incredible design at work, the game is very affecting emotionally in terms of the music of course, John Broomhall’s music, and the look of it, it’s got this very lonely feeling and you have all these interesting decisions to make. But then, also the advent of the internet and then the fact that people could exchange all this information about the original game if you go to something like a UFOpedia online, or there are so many wikis about the original game, you can go there and then you start to understand the depth behind all these systems.

I remember this was towards the end of college, I went back and played and was starting to get all this information in mind, and like there’s a whole new layer to the game as your understanding of these very deep complex system mechanics, and so it’s been very interesting because people can argue, people can make some points with some very deep information to back it up based on how the original game worked and things like time units and reaction fire. They’re very deep systems so it doesn’t surprise me that people feel passionate about it and it certainly doesn’t bother me that people feel strongly about it even if they don’t agree with the choices that we’ve made. Sometimes you’re surprised at the things that people do seem to get excited about or to latch on and maybe not agree with you on, but yeah, I think the passion overall wasn’t a surprise to me. Although there were some people on my team who weren’t familiar with the original, and of course everybody on our team had to play the original. When you start on our project, you have to play for a week…

RPS: You should have just fired them, they’re clearly no good.

Jake Solomon: (laughs) I just said if you can’t make it to Cydonia at the end of your week….you can just not bother coming in. So, I think for those that didn’t have that understanding of how the game continued to live on on the internet through the wikis, I think it was quite a shock to see how strongly people reacted to the idea of remaking XCOM, so that was actually kind of fun to see. But I don’t know that I was surprised by it. I mean Civ is certainly similar in the sense that you have fans that are so knowledgeable about the deep system mechanics that it’s a little bit daunting. You never question what you’ve done, the decisions, before the game comes out, because the decisions we make here are based on play, like we do not have paper discussions about Firaxis, nobody gets to write a design on paper and say ‘see why this is so great’ because those conversations can go on forever. What we do is that we put them in and we say is this better, is this not, take it out, move forward with it. So you feel confident that you’ve made your decisions the right way. Not to say that every decision we make is right, but yeah, it’s just the sort of thing where it’s fun to have people who not only feel strongly but can then pull out some pretty obscure math to back up their point, so…I don’t know, it’s nice to have that and then the opposite.

RPS: I do wonder about the change from how things were when the game first game out. It was just a complete self-discovery thing, there was no tutorial, there was no Gamefaqs – and now you’re going to emerge into a completely different era where people can just dissect you and share all the information straight away and there won’t be that same sort of mystery and very slow-burn understanding.

Jake Solomon: No, and I think that’s what’s funny is that we’re all the hard core guys right, like the original fans, and for us it was this sense of like, you get dropped on the Geoscape, right, and you’re looking at it and it’s already affecting because you have the music and you’re looking at Earth hanging there… And I love the Geoscape, I think it’s brilliant because the first screen you’re looking at, you’re just staring at the earth and it looks very vulnerable because it looks a little small and it’s surrounded by the black and purple mists of space behind it and you’ve got this music playing and it’s just very affecting, right from the get-go, but you don’t know what you’re doing. The first thing you do is, pick where you wanna put your base, and you’re like ‘umm….I guess I’ll pick Kansas city. So I always put my first base there, before I learned that I should put it in Europe, but I always had Nuramcom, which was the name of my first base, and that was always in Kansas because that was where I grew up. And so, then you have these experiences, and the game just continues to reveal itself to you and you’re like ‘what the shit?’ the first time you meet Chrysalids let’s say. And the first time you meet Snakemen you’re like ‘Those guys don’t look so tough, right’, and then a Chrysalid comes out of the dark and you’re like ‘what the hell?’ because he walks right up to you. If you can see a Chrysalid then you’re dead – they’ll walk right up to you, chomp, chomp, your guy dies, and then you’re like ‘wow, that’s amazing’. Then next turn, what the hell, all of a sudden this zombie rises up.

And without knowing that stuff beforehand and almost being dropped into that, that was a different experience and I think that that’s what a lot of us remember too, and certainly as a developer that again is daunting because we want to have all those notes, we want to have that depth. I mean trust me, we’re trying to have all that depth all and those notes, but this isn’t the same situation – we don’t want to eliminate any depth but then now what we’ve got to do is make up for all that by making it a little more clear to the player and making sure that the game blossoms appropriately to where the player starts at the right point and then learns all these mechanics and has all the same mechanics. That’s obviously been the most challenging part of development.

RPS: So how much do you spoil, almost, in the tutorial which I guess you feel you’ve got to have in this day and age, and how much can you still keep for later once they’ve got the basics?

Jake Solomon: I think the way you do that is you set up systems, you set up some pretty core systems that once you teach them how to use one element in the system, then they’re good and you sort of let them out into the wide world, and then when the later elements appear, they function somewhat the same but they’re completely different and they introduce all kinds of interesting interactions. So it’s true, the way that I played the game then and the way that I played the game after I got online and saw how your manufacturing can actually be optimised… I learned all these mathematical systems and how you’re supposed to manufacture, how to use reaction, how to level up your soldiers by, I won’t say cheating, but you load your guys down then you take all these reaction shots, and so then I played that way, and now when I play, I’ve actually gone back to how I first was, I play in the way that I think Julian would have wanted me to play. So I, use, like, the Firestorm – people don’t use the fFrestorm, right? Well I use the Firestorm, and you’re not supposed to put fusion ball launchers on your ships but you know what, I AM going to put those on my ships and I do use the heavy laser because I think the elements they put in there originally in the flow, I can play. I’m good enough now to win by not min/maxing so it’s fun now to use all these elements that for the last couple of years I’d avoided using because they weren’t optimal.

RPS: I’ve never played it in the optimum efficiency way myself, I’ve always preferred the fantasy of it being a world teetering on the brink of destruction and one false move from you can create untold disaster. The idea of knowing precisely how to react to an alien invasion sort of ruins it for me a bit. It is called Enemy Unknown…

Jake Solomon: No, absolutely, it’s absolutely true. I mean, there is satisfaction of course in playing the game the best you can, you understand the system and you’re like ‘ok, I’m going to manufacture Medkits to start off, and I’m gonna manufacture xyz, and then laser canons, because this is most profitable’, but then it does suck a little of the joy out of it. So now I’ve gone back now to playing like, you know what, I’m not going to worry about that, and when I research the Firestorm I’m going to build it, I don’t care that I should probably just go and build the Avenger and throw plasma beams on it, but that’s not the way I play any more. Now I sort of play more narratively because I just get more enjoyment out of it.

RPS: How are you approaching the narrative in yours – is it still that slow-burn of new stuff, new understanding without resorting to cut scenes and things like that?

Jake Solomon: Yes, I mean we accent moments throughout the gameplay with cinematics and more dramatic moments but it’s driven by the player in the sense that it’s obviously not a linear progression, but the player can achieve certain things and we’ll say ok, that’s a big moment, so… One of the things we always wanted to do was get across that sense of the world teetering on the edge, and there was one thing about the original game, which I think is kind of its appeal, but it feels very lonely. You’re managing XCOM, you’re the one making all the decisions and that can be a very lonely position, but you never got too much sense of what was going on in the wider world – and we’re not trying to change that and have this be some kind of linear scripted experience, because that’s not what XCOM is. But we still have the opportunity to say like ‘oh, look at that, the player did this or achieved this big thing or this dramatic thing happened, let’s enhance that with something more dramatic’ so we certainly do have cinematic, but we also understand that the player driven narrative is always going to be stronger than the overarching linear narrative in a game like XCOM. That’s something we enjoy ourselves and love and believe in.

A lot of things we do we do to try and enhance the player driven narrative, you know, your soldiers earn nicknames at the sergeant rank, so once they reach sSrgeant they actually get a nickname and of course everything’s customisable, the names, the look of your soldiers, because again, it’s that sort of thing where you feel like you’re not a movie director, you’re more of like the stagehand and you’re trying to give the players the best props that you can to tell their own story. So we do things like let them earn nicknames and let them customize their soldiers, and along those lines, every soldier, they come from all different countries. We want to make sure that this feels very international, so every soldier when they go into battle they actually have their country’s flag on the back of their armour. So you’ve got a soldier from Brazil, and they’ll have the Brazilian flag on the back of their armour. A lot of those touches that as a player from the original game I said, ‘I always wished I could….x, y, z’, and we’ve tried to bring a lot of those into this game.

RPS: That sounds like it’s handy…it could be quite hard to tell your soldiers apart later in the game when they’re all wearing the same armour and you can’t see their stupid haircuts anymore. Maybe the flags will help differentiate that.

Jake Solomon: Right, exactly, it’s one of those things where by the end, everybody’s like an orbiting death station because everybody’s in the flying armour and they’ve got the heavy plasma, and so it becomes very difficult to tell. But of course you would associate with them, and maybe rename them so that their stats would show up or something like that. We want the player to form that attachment, you’re gonna form that attachment to your soldiers anyway, and so we just want to do things that enhance that.

RPS: Are you keeping them being hospitalised and wounded so that you can have that guy not quite dead – ‘oh, he’ll be coming back, it’ll be so amazing when he’s back on the scene’ thing, and then…

Jake Solomon: Yeah, obviously your guys can die of course, the rookies also have to go through the meatgrinder, and of course even your veterans can die. There are permanent consequences to your guys getting wounded as well so if your guys get wounded in combat, when they come back of course they’re going to have to go to the infirmary, and one of the things that I’m excited about is that we actually have our HQ – you’ve seen the screenshots of the base, so that’s actually a living diorama, you’ll actually see there’s people walking around and they’re your actual soldiers, so when you come back from mission they’re shooting pool together, they’re having a beer down in the bar, so your wounded soldiers are laying up in infirmary and maybe some of their oldest friends are down there standing next to the bedside visiting with them.

There’s a memorial wall where you’ve got all your fallen soldiers, so maybe somebody’s visiting that, and there’s the officers’ quarters, there’s the rookies’ quarters, which aren’t as nice, so you’ve got your scientists walking around and your soldiers, and those are your actual soldiers. Again, it sort of plays into the player narrative is so much stronger and so it’s just fun as a player to come back and be like your two officers are there and they’re shooting pool together, and when they’re wounded they’re laying up in the infirmary and there’s doctors and nurses walking around taking care of them.

And a fun game play thing is we have critical wounding in the game, so when somebody takes a critical wound, just like in the original, they’re bleeding out and you’ve only got a couple of turns to get to them with a Medkit and stabilize them. But those soldiers who are critically wounded, if you stabilize them, well then good for you, you’ve saved one of your soldiers, but the problem of course is that they suffer a permanent Will penalty from that point on, and so now they become a little shakier. Like God forbid you suffer two critical wounds, you’re going to be jumping at every sound. I mean depending upon what their starting will was, but then you get these guys who are a little shaky and they’re going to panic at the first sign of things going south and they’re going to start chucking grenades everywhere and freaking out and firing off their gun wildly…

RPS: and presumably when the Ethereals turn up they’re the first to be mind controlled.

Jake Solomon: Right exactly, those are the guys who are just a little bit shaky in the mental department, and again it’s one of those things that, it sounds like a penalty, but it’s really one of those things that carries over from the original game because you would have guys that would go all through the game and maybe they had a very low bravery or morale stat, or they get to the end of the game and you realize that your stud Colonel, who’s like your best soldier, has like the mental prowess of a goat. So, he’s immediately the one that the aliens turn on his own men and so that was always such a heartbreaking moment, so we wanted to have elements like that where as your soldiers get wounded they suffer some permanent effects of that.

RPS: Yeah, I can remember stuff, like the psychic stuff, where I was actually sacrificing lesser troops just to try and keep my main guy alive and rescue him somehow….

Jake Solomon: It’s not a bad thing when you realize that the Sectoid leaders are going to go after the mentally weakest one in your squad – you realise which one’s they’re picking on and you go ‘ok, fine. From now on, you get to come with us but you get a pistol and that’s it’ and like ‘You’re off the drop ship first’. So when they start controlling that guy, you don’t have to worry anymore because you’re like ‘oh yeah, that’s his thing… Don’t worry about him, he’s freaking out and gnashing his teeth but he only has a pistol so he’s not going to kill anybody’ and you basically bait the aliens, which is a horrible thing to do if you actually thought about that realistically, but, yeah, that was always an effective tactic.

RPS: One of the things that XCOM’s so great at is making you be horrible, as I was saying earlier – killing civilians and sacrificing your own men, but you’re goning ‘it doesn’t matter because we’re saving the world, okay, don’t ask me about it’.

Jake Solomon: That’s right, you can have a very utilitarian point of view because you can say ‘ultimately, I’m the guy saving the world’, so and of course it didn’t help that the civilians, they walk around and you are like ‘do you not see the giant snake behind you’, (laughs) ‘do you not see the eight foot snake behind you, why are you walking back into the room with him? Why do you not come this direction?’

RPS: So how much of that have you been able to recreate or expand on?

Jake Solomon: Well, we certainly still have terror missions, some of the mission types obviously we’re not talking about, but the terror missions we certainly have and so we still have that element of civilians running around. In a very fun way, it becomes this exasperating element of like, you’re saving the world and there are these horrible monsters here, they’re running around, and you feel like you’re herding cats because there are all of these civilians and they’re screaming their heads off and you actually feel like this is probably what a military commander would feel like. You’d be ‘for God’s sake, would you just stay still, I’m coming over there to rescue you, please do not….’ And then they run out and you’re like ‘ok, well that’s your own fault’. Yeah, so I think that that element is still there.

RPS: Are there any of the original aliens that you weren’t able to keep in?

Jake Solomon: Well yeah, I suppose I should never say never, but I will say that the Silacoid didn’t quite make it, what I would say is that… You know what, I’m going to get blasted for that aren’t I? you just set me up, didn’t you?

RPS: (laughs) I did not! Though now you mention it, maybe I have my headline…

Jake Solomon: ‘They eliminated the Silacoid’…. and then I’m going to get forty comments about the Silacoid and why it was crucial… No, what I would say is that we have a deep love – I don’t want this to sound marketing-ish – but we do, the original characters mean an awful, awful lot to us, so I don’t think that people should worry on that score. But yeah, if I will say there’s one that didn’t make it for sure it was the Silacoid, remember the old rock spitting blob, well he didn’t make the translation, but in general we love the original aliens. I mean the only ones we’ve talked about so far, the Muton, the Cyberdisc, the Sectoid and the new one, the Thin Man, but we do have a deep abiding love for the rest of the original aliens as well, so…

RPS: I will read between the lines and presume Chrysalids are in there then, which will make a lot of people happy.

Jake Solomon: (laughs) I did not confirm or deny anything! I didn’t say anything!

RPS: What about new guys, are the Thin Men the only ones that are in there or have you really expanded the rogues gallery?

Jake Solomon: I think that I’m under embargo to talk about any more past that, but yeah, the Thin Man is an example of where we felt it made sense to expand, because the original is rooted not in camp but in UFO mythology, so they have the greys and of course it got weirder and weirder, but you know the Sectoids coming from the greys is obvious, and I think that that’s a very fun place for the player to start. Even like when I was new to XCOM, of course that’s what you expected to see, you expected to go onto the field and see a grey, and that was always very fun, and so we felt with the Thin Man we could do that because it’s a play on the idea of an infiltrator which everybody always knows. The aliens are among us, they’re watching us, and so it’s a play on the idea of that infiltrator and also a play on the men in black mythology, so that obviously made sense and it fits within that whole idea of these aliens being rooted in some sort of UFO mythology.

In tomorrow’s third and final part, we discuss the thorny issue of why time units were removed, how the replacement system works, Julian Gollop, mod support, random mission generation and why call this game X-COM instead of a new IP.

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131 Comments »

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  1. iARDAs says:

    I believe this game will either be good or bad. Perhaps average.

    I used to be a sucker for the old versions of this game, Probably this was the game i played most when i was a kid, oh and the championship manager series too.

    I am really looking forward to it.

    • Tams80 says:

      I believe this game will either be good or bad. Perhaps average.

      I have never played XCOM and now I might just have a gander. I’m not sure my attention span will allow me to play for long, but then again I might be up all night playing it.

      I don’t know whether to look forward to this or not.

    • Yor Fizzlebeef says:

      All I know is that my gut says “maybe”.

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      Man Raised by Puffins says:

      It’s time someone had the courage to stand up and say: I’m against those things that everybody hates.

    • iARDAs says:

      Incredible argument there man raised by Puffins, Incredible.

    • aldo_14 says:

      I believe this game will either be good or bad. Perhaps average.

      I also believe that this game will be rankable on a ten point scale defining quality, and will be awarded a rank which is neither less than zero nor greater than ten.

    • frenz0rz says:

      I say your ten point scale opinion goes too far!

    • enobayram says:

      I can tell one thing with absolute certainty though. This game will not be any worse than horrible…

    • timmyvos says:

      And I say your ten point scale doesn’t go too far enough!

    • nimzy says:

      I’m calling the inevitable 8/10 Eurogamer review right now. You saw it here first, folks!

    • Roshin says:

      All I know is that my gut says “maybe”.

      Yes, a sort of quiet despair.

      Silacoids wont be missed, btw. As far as I know, no one really liked them.

    • Oddtwang of Dork says:

      If I don’t make it back, tell my wife “hello”.

    • Deformed_Transformed says:

      I concur that the game will likely either be good, average, or bad. Somewhere between 1 – 100 on the metascore. Just a hunch.

    • MellowKrogoth says:

      I can’t concur more with your conclusions.

      But most importantly: I’ll be playing this game until I stop playing it.

    • UK_John says:

      My gut says maybe not quite up to the original, but better than the other X-Com’s that followed and all the Aftermath’s, etc Which would still have it pretty high up!

  2. greg_ritter says:

    Oh, his worries about cutting Silicoid dre just Silly… Sillycoid, er…. Ah…. Damn. Help me out.

    • J-snukk says:

      I forgot the stupid thing existed until it was mentioned. As long as Chrysalids are in, I’m happy on the monster front. Although seeing some lobster men or the parasites from Apocalypse would be amusing. I don’t think the former will make it in, but the latter, I think will be included. They mention apoc a lot and how much they want to build on UFO mythology tropes. Brain suckers are the height of that and were the best enemy in Apoc.

    • Lugg says:

      It’s amusing to see him worried about not including the Sillycoid? No? Damn.

    • enobayram says:

      Let’s see how long I will survive after saying this:

      I wish they borrowed the real time combat from Apocalypse… I really don’t understand what people don’t like about real-time that you can pause.

      There, I said it…

    • J-snukk says:

      Each to their own, but I disliked it a lot, it was too fast paced and without the slow, creeping, claustrophic horror. Furthermore, I felt the pausing system could be difficult to manage to in a fight, it was all too easy to overshoot when you needed to pause to micro-manage. I found the entire thing unwieldy.

    • enobayram says:

      I get your point, but my experience was improved a lot, when I understood one thing. Even though you’ve all the time in the world to grasp the situation, as the player, your soldiers don’t. Considering that your commands are in reality, the decisions your soldiers take, it makes perfect sense that they react to the commands a bit late. That’s time time it takes for them to come up with that decision. I think the reaction time depended on one of the soldier stats, but I don’t remember that much detail. All in all, I think real-time is more realistic, and I feel more like a tactician in that mode.

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      jezcentral says:

      @enobayram

      Like the UFO: After games? (And for that matter, Dragon Age). There’s nothing wrong with it per se, but I preferred the turn-based version. Using TB, I could spread my forces around the map, and have lots of simultaneous encounters. When I play “paused real-time” games, I always end up massing my men into a Ball of Death (and this was years before Starcraft 2 :) ), and taking on the aliens one-by-one.

    • briktal says:

      Real-time combat is a different style, so it might just feel different in a sequel or remake. In a turn based game, your actions tend to go find enemy->kill enemy->take cover->end turn. If you do this well and are lucky, the enemy will rarely get a chance to even shoot at you. I also think there’s a little bit more value placed on individual units, as a really good soldier can more efficiently take out those enemies you find, allowing you to cover more ground or find better defensive positions. In real-time games, you generally want to maximize firepower on a target. You want to kill them quickly because they will be firing back at you.

    • enobayram says:

      @jezcentral & briktal, very good points indeed, you made me want to go back and try apocalypse in turn-based mode. Though something inside me tells that if I do this, I’ll finally understand why everybody hates Apocalypse so much in comparison to the previous titles :/ Now add me to the list of people who’re seriously concerned about the fate of TUs

    • bill says:

      Never got on with X-COM, so my opinion is worthless, but… I always loved the system in Space Hulk.
      Where you could pause and issue orders in paused mode, but there was a timer limit – which depended on your commander’s skill.
      I’m constantly amazed no games have copied that…. even if it might not work well for multiplayer.

      If they do go ahead with the x-com shooter then they should totally borrow that part from space hulk.

  3. torchedEARTH says:

    I can almost see myself playing this game already.

    I look really happy.

  4. TormDK says:

    Another part!? Arg, more baiting and waiting!

  5. Flint says:

    Well he’s certainly selling the game for me with this interview, the game has gone from “hmm…” to “I really want to play this” based on what you two have been talking about.

    • MellowKrogoth says:

      From this interview and the video, I really like their approach to the whole affair.

      Part 3 though will be the most important for me, when they tell what they did with the game mechanics.

    • soldant says:

      I’ve gone from “cautiously optimistic” to just straight optimistic. So far the changes they’ve mentioned sound positive, and it also seems to suggest that they are trying to stay close to the original. But I think the 3rd part is the most important.

  6. GeoGonzo says:

    I’m sold, and I really like this Jake Solomon fellow. I’m pretty sure that my favourite game’s legacy is in good hands.

    • dontnormally says:

      “…and you can’t see their stupid haircuts anymore”

      I lul’d.

    • Deformed_Transformed says:

      I’m on board with GeoGonzo the more we hear from Solomon the more faith I have and that’s a refreshing feeling when it comes to this particular genre and this particular game. It simply has to be handled with care. The game is in worthy hands it would seem, and the more I read the more I feel as though it’s me reimagining the game, so I feel more confident that he has original fans in mind foremost. I think if the final product is as good as it certainly should be, then maybe it will breath a little life back into the TBS genre as a whole. These are my favorite games, and that isn’t saying I don’t like RTS or Shooters because I do. TBS is incredibly fulfilling mentally like chess for instance, and I think it should always have a place in video gaming. I’m going to buy Enemy Unknown that isn’t even a question in my mind, because I think there is more then the XCOM franchise riding on it, maybe TBS as a whole is making its last stand here. :(

  7. InternetBatman says:

    I would like to hear more about his rational for specific design decisions, like only one base. I haven’t played the game, so it’s not like I get the ramifications of that decision, but I find the rationals for those types of decisions fascinating. Also, why do their slender men have faces and no tentacles?

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      HermitUK says:

      I suspect the actual Slenderman would be a tad OP. He turns up, suddenly the game skips ahead 10 turns. All your blokes are dead, save one. He’s cowering in the dropship, covered in blood and gibbering like a loon.

    • silgidorn says:

      Actually,as Jake Solomon said here:

      http://www.gameinformer.com/b/features/archive/2012/01/18/alien-breeds-the-evolution-of-xcom-s-enemies.aspx?PostPageIndex=2

      It’s not slendermen, the thinmen are awkward attempts of infiltration from the aliens. The aim here is to ressemble humans not to be all faceless and tentacle like. Try to think them as almost human with a twist.
      I think that the alien paradigm here is the john carpenter’s infiltrated ones from They Live, more or less.

    • Deformed_Transformed says:

      I have absolutely no doubt that you will beable to place and modify multiple bases.

  8. TheWhippetLord says:

    I made a clay silicoid in art class in school back in my wild mis-spent youth. First time a teacher ever openly laughed at me. :)

    This remake gets more appealing the more I hear of it. My inner rabid X-COM fanboy is still screaming slightly about the changes but I cannot completely eliminate the possibilty of having fun in this game.

  9. fearlessgoat says:

    No Silacoid !?!?
    No Buy!!!

    Just kidding, I would give my first born for this game!

  10. Gameon says:

    About creating a game that allows people to play in a non-optimum way in this Internet era, I’m still puzzled (or maybe someone is already doing it and I don’t know yet) why they don’t add a small element of randomness to the game when creating a new game, so that the experience will be a little bit different to every player.

    What I mean is that, when creating a new game, the program would assign the value and cost of things sliglthly randomly. Say, for example, that laser cannons would be worth X plus minus some value between 1 and 5% of the “average” value… you do that with at least part of the elements in the game and optimising it would be much more difficult than just looking for a simple answer in Internet… on the other hand, maybe there are people that do like playing optimum and prefer “cheating” by searching the optimum way in the Internet.

    • Premium User Badge

      Zephro says:

      Apocalypse did this. There was a certain amount of random market fluctuation but also within the cityscape you had all your suppliers as separate organisations. If those organisations took hits from aliens, were infiltrated by aliens or thought you were doing a bad job as X-Com they would increase their prices or even cut the supply. So the optimal weapon would keep changing depending on markets and politics.

      If things got really bad and one of the main arms contractors refused to sell you supplies you could also raid them, but they would raid your base back etc.

      Whatever anyone says about Apocalypse those game mechanics were brilliant and have generally been neglected by all remakes so far.

    • aldo_14 says:

      It’s probably down to a balancing thing. Understandable, I guess, but having randomization as an option would be neat.

    • bill says:

      Wouldn’t it actually make it more balanced? Because from what i can understand X-com was totally unbalanced in many ways – there seem to be a lot of “useless” weapons and equipment. Etc..

      If the stats and costs were a little randomised, then there would be more chance of every weapon or stat being useful to someone at some point.

  11. TheWhippetLord says:

    It has to be said: Silicoids rock.

    • Raiyan 1.0 says:

      Silicoids aren’t just terrestrial – they are extra-terrestrial!

    • Premium User Badge

      Johnny Go-Time says:

      lol at this point, I just take it for granite that any RPS article I care about will also contain a solid pun thread.

  12. Dinger says:

    I still say it’s foolish to remake a beloved childhood game for so many people. Nostalgia is always better than the real thing.
    Besides, now we have the internet, the old guard that never abandoned the original uses knowledge of the game as a principle of social order. Anything new in the game is by definition a deviation from the original, and brings in new knowledge which can be mastered by those not controlled by the old X-Com elite. And no attack is more vicious than that dished out by a threatened elite.

    100% faithful X-Com would not be half as good as the original remembered. An X-Com taking the mechanics and playing with them in some direction will be hated by the hard corps who keep X-Com on the internet lo’ these many years. They have to hate; it’s a social necessity.

    But make a game with love, and we’ll get your back.

    • Drake Sigar says:

      Maybe. Although I recently revisited the Batman animated series and found it even better than I remembered, mostly because I am now old enough to fully appreciate all the details my kiddy self wouldn’t notice.

    • Cinnamon says:

      I hope you find someone who can protect you from those elite x-com fans. Have you tried amnesty international?

    • Nick says:

      and I say its incredibly stupid to attribute its qualities as a game to nostalgia.

  13. Drake Sigar says:

    Great interview. The idea of my soldiers/staff doing their own thing throughout the facility and generally living, sounds ridiculously appealing.

    • Icarus says:

      Yeah, that part sounds frankly fantastic.

    • Donkeydeathtasticelastic says:

      I admit, the part about the memorial had me thinking of the “Lost In Service” screen in Cannon Fodder.

      There’s gonna be a lot of little polaroid photographs pinned to that wall…

    • Torgen says:

      I’ll probably spend far more time than necessary on that screen.

  14. Premium User Badge

    RaveTurned says:

    Interesting stuff about critical wounds. I’m not sure I agree that characters who suffer a heavy injury should always be more likely to panic on future missions – people react differently to stress and trauma, and sometimes having survived through adverse experiences can steel a person’s resolve in future. It’d be great if the injuries had a probabilistic chance of a range of positive and negative effects – perhaps the character would suffer a penalty to will, or maybe they’d get a bonus to morale, a reduction in HP, and so on.

    Maybe certain effects could be tied to the location of injury – lose an eye and lose some perception. To take this idea down a logical path, you’d could add an option to research futuristic prosthetics to mitigate the penalties caused by lasting injuries. Solider lost an arm? Replace it with a mechanical prosthetic! His accuracy will increase, but the prosthetic is heavy so he’ll get a reduction in AP.

    • G-Bee says:

      Agreed, there should be an odd chance that a wounded character actually benefits from it instead of automatically suffer a pentalty. I could already see myself loading up a savegame every time I get a critical injury.

    • Premium User Badge

      Zephro says:

      The development of prosthetics would be ace!

      These are the kinds of things I’d like to hear about rather than just straight remakes.

    • Svant says:

      That was like the first thing that popped into my head when he started talking about negative impacts of being wounded. There really should be a chance that the scared new recruit who survives a plasma burn realises the aliens aren’t so bloody scary and becomes a hardened veteran instead of a wreck.

    • Jesse L says:

      I also agree. That’s really the only thing that I didn’t like hearing in this review. Aren’t chances good that everyone will get a critical injury eventually? And having someone rebound from an injury with even better morale would be great storytelling fodder.

    • luckyb0y says:

      +1 Hopefully the devs will hear us out. It seems like a trivial thing to adjust and having more random effects instead of the same thing over and over would be way more interesting.

    • ratache says:

      That would be simply marvelous. I’m envisioning a XCOM/SYNDICATE hybrid when It comes to the soldiers. Why not throw in the “humanity-meter” on the overall process of gameplay. In the end you might have flying armour’d assault death machines or simply cool but horribly inhuman terminators walking around in the debris of a “necessary” nuclear assault. That might put the release date a bit further down the slippery road though…

    • august says:

      I agree that they should seriously reconsider the psychology of being wounded. Oftentimes soliders will hide serious injuries from thier superiors or a medic in order to go back out on the battlefield.

  15. Tomhai says:

    I know that you cant cater to every need but, Mr Solomon, is there any way that you could still make the UI less neon blue. It’s so…. agressively different from the overall image of the game that I’m not sure if I can get over it. I hate it in BF3, but BF3 being a shooter, your attention is focused on shooting men… in a strategy game, where your whole activity is navigating the UI, this neon blue just hurts the eyes. Especially the neonblue guns.

    • misterT0AST says:

      I think that in a 2012 science fiction game we can’t expect a big blocky wall-like interface like in old RTS games, and small stylized icons with transparent background seem pretty much the only sensible alternative.
      As for the neon blue, my guess is that such a simple interface would allow you to choose the colour you prefer (like the colour of your Pip-boy screen in Fallout 3).

  16. zeroskill says:

    I want this game to be really good. I hope they can manage to not make to many concessions considering this game isn’t a PC exclusive, and isn’t developed with only the PC in mind. Let’s wait and see.

    • BigSmallFeet says:

      I can’t comment on that but here is a quote I found on the forums

      “Ive just got done reading over the feature list for xcom.

      Turn based: but no action points. Made for console, with a port for the PC (citing Dragon Age as an example of how console ports can be good). No ammo, you just magically always have enough.. Only one base.

      Its rather sad in a way, that we may never see this ‘winning formula’ of game design again. So much is dumbed down these days. Developers seem to be incapable of just updating the graphics of old and loved games and releasing them with the same functionality. Maybe they are afraid all the other developers will laugh at them.”

    • Premium User Badge

      Hanban says:

      I feel like if all they do is update the graphics, then there is really no reason for me to play the new game instead of the original. And honestly, the original games could be very frustrating and at times wholly unenjoyable.

  17. kruxus says:

    Looks promising. I was a bit disappointed really when I saw the screens the other day with some sectoids hulking for cover behind a green combi. It took away some of their dignity, I think I would prefer if they used some kind of forcefield for cover (that would still allow you to use flanking tactics). For me UFO was all about terror and that image went against that a bit. Maybe a small thing to nitpick about but still..

  18. frenz0rz says:

    “So when they start controlling that guy, you don’t have to worry anymore because you’re like ‘oh yeah, that’s his thing… Don’t worry about him, he’s freaking out and gnashing his teeth but he only has a pistol so he’s not going to kill anybody’”

    Sold.

  19. Tyrone Slothrop. says:

    Is there any word if one finely sand down a map to ground level with an extralegal quantity of explosives?

    I need to know if one can finely sand down a map to ground level with an extralegal quantity of explosives.

    • silgidorn says:

      Actually i don’t think that leveling the world yourself is a viable strategy when the mission is preventing the aliens from leveling the world.

    • Premium User Badge

      ffordesoon says:

      It kills aliens, dunnit? ;)

    • silgidorn says:

      You know, i’ve been thinking hard about that and i’m pretty sure it makes sense somehow…

    • sneetch says:

      Plus if you kill all the people then it prevents the aliens killing all the people and surely preventing the aliens killing people is a worthwhile goal?

    • silgidorn says:

      Makes me think of Something that could have been discussed in the american presidential bunker of the fallout universe just after all the nuclear missiles available had been launched:
      “…Well…at least China won’t have Arkansas…”
      “Shut up”.

  20. Alexandros says:

    Interesting interview, eagerly waiting now for the final part. The guy’s heart is certainly in the right place, now we just have to see if Firaxis can deliver. I’m extremely glad that this year I’ll have two (hopefully) great x-com clones to play (XCOM: EU and Xenonauts). Or maybe three (UFO: Extraterrestrials 2)! That would be awesome, I would be set for at least 2 years game-wise :D

  21. botting says:

    [ this is in regard to both sections 1 and 2 of this interview ]

    Let’s get one thing straight: after Civ V, neither Firaxis nor 2k is to be trusted whatsoever, especially with old treasures. And especially not “best game ever”s.

    This “Jake Solomon” — if that’s even his real name — is professing his and his team’s love and respect for the original, out of one side of his mouth, and telling us all the cool stuff they’ve eliminated, out of the other. How people can swallow this rubbish is beyond me. “Know your enemy”, indeed!

    To chalk up things like ammo management, character loadout (yes, including the individual separate armor pieces!), multiple base building, stat-based character progression, squad size for heaven’s sake, etc. to “needless micromanagement” the removal of which “was agreed to by all” as “making the game better across the board” is a hallmark of a person and/or team who doesn’t even know the original, much less respect or love it. (And yes, the silacoid. You’re ****ing-A right, the silacoid!)

    And by the way, regarding the bit about how it’s really “making two complete separate games”: not with all the stuff you’ve removed, especially from “strategic” mode, it isn’t!

    Do I want to see an exact, modernized re-skin of the original game? Of course not. (n.b., Xenonauts team.) I want to see a positive evolution, fixing any possible shortcomings as well as introducing new surprises, challenges, and complexities. Certainly not a butcher-job like was done going from Civ IV to Civ V, which sounds like exactly where this is headed, if only to a slightly lesser extent.

    For my part — not that they’re not so far off-base as to make such considerations practically irrelevant at this point — I’d like to see the best of all the X-COM world has to offer make it into a revamp, not just X-COM: UFO Defense. But mainly I will say a few sentences about Apocalypse since that is apparently the unloved child around here. The ability to just stroll (and yes, literally stroll .. or hoverbike .. or hovercar .. or APC .. etc.) into some corporate or civic building and start snooping around for ETs, and often find them, as well as finding the cool stuff in there like the company’s products, was amazing and immersive. The game had a super-future-noir thing going on that few others have or ever will. (Syndicate Wars?) The ability to diversify your vehicles and loadouts; interactions between the factions; larger, more complex maps; the option of playing battles RT or TB, down to user’s preference; cool new “human concern” elements like S.E.L.F. and Cult of Sirius — these are the types of advances that were natural, exciting, and overall welcome evolution to the original. Certainly not “we need to ‘engage’ the user more … let’s make ‘scan for UFOs’ into a button they have to press!”

    Now what could have made Apoc better? If you were to zoom out and find that you are responsible for not just one such city, but an entire globe worth. :P That’s the kind of expansive strategic scale I’m talking about.

    And by the way, the fact that the reboot team can just say, dismissively, “no, Apocalypse isn’t really what we were going for at all”, also shows that at best they “just don’t get it” and at worst are just on a cash grab. To – what else? – re-make the “best game ever”. And make sure everybody, especially the uninitiated, know beforehand that “hey! they are remaking the best game ever!” All in hopes that what they will actually make is, merely, the best-selling game ever.

    That’s about all I have to say, other than that professional game journalists, as an industry, are far too easy on games/developers these days, critically speaking.

    • Jesse L says:

      Wow.

    • silgidorn says:

      […]To chalk up things like ammo management, character loadout (yes, including the individual separate armor pieces!)[…]

      Just the two first things you are saying. As I have stated before, ammo management is supposed to be a quartermaster job not the job of a tactical and strategic leader having to adress the question of UFO invasion on a global scale. We are supposed to have more important things to worry about than wondering if our professional soldier thought of getting ammo.

      More importantly, they are remaking/reimagin…ing the original X-com, so the individual separate armor pieces straight from apocalypse don’t have to be removed…since they are not supposed to be here in the first place.

    • Premium User Badge

      c-Row says:

      Let’s get one thing straight: after Civ V, neither Firaxis nor 2k is to be trusted whatsoever, especially with old treasures. And especially not “best game ever”s.

      Yeah, imagine we would get another game with a Metacritic score of 90! THE HORROR!

    • silgidorn says:

      …yeah…

      …About that metactritic thingie:

      http://www.metacritic.com/game/pc/dragon-age-ii

    • MCM says:

      botting hits the nail on the head here.

      That c-Row points to the metacritic score for Civ 5 just proves botting’s point, especially about “games journalists.” That “90” metacritic score is what the games “press” gives Civ 5. The user scores are more like 68. But I guess c-Row didn’t actually read all of bottings comment, since it ends with “professional game journalists, as an industry, are far too easy on games/developers these days, critically speaking. “

    • Premium User Badge

      c-Row says:

      User scores rarely are something you can rely on as they are fueled by fanboy/haters rage rather than objectivity – for all its flaws, MW3 hardly deserves a 2.1 out of 10. I can’t tell whether or not DA2 deserves all the negative user feedback it gets as I haven’t played it, but I enjoyed Civ V so I don’t care for its user rating on MC.

      That c-Row points to the metacritic score for Civ 5 just proves botting’s point, especially about “games journalists.”

      If anything it proves that one person’s taste is just that.

    • MCM says:

      And reviewers aren’t people with personal tastes?

      Just the fact that the reviewers all gave the game positive reviews while half the users did should you something. Just look at the numbers:

      Professional reviews
      ——————————-
      66 positive reviews
      4 mixed review
      0 negative reviews

      User reviews
      ——————
      96 positive reviews
      44 mixed reviews
      95 negative reviews

      Can you even believe that’s about the same game? It’s absolutely stunning and makes it totally obvious that SOMETHING IS WRONG. It’s a massive discrepancy that you see with few other games. user reviews tend to be lower overall, but usually not that much lower. It absolutely indicates the difference between hype and the actual game. The vast majority of all “journalist reviews” for all games are positive. That just tells you that you cannot trust the game reviewers at all.

      So when it comes to user reviews, great you enjoyed Civ 5. Many people didn’t. Let’s not pretend those people didn’t exist, and that the game is perfect, because you happen to agree with the “journalists” and not the majority of the users who had issues, or downright disliked, Civ 5.

    • ratache says:

      I was about to post “Sold” before I read your post. This article conveys a picture of this game as a loved sequel expanding on the UFO saga. I can’t for the love of brown sugar be able to understand why someone would remove all these things you mention.

      So i’ll chill with any further praises, I’m really looking forward for part 3 where this Solomon dude will explain himself!

      And btw, I’love being the commander who once were a quartermaster, who tells my soldiers what ammo is best against their overpowdered adversaries. I love to be the specialsist at killing aliens on a almost elegant and very industrious manner. I hate having games removing my options to excel, so people without this passion can play. They have their railroad shooters. Go fetch.

    • Wooly Wugga Wugga says:

      Wow, interesting post.

      I’m also think that some sort of ammo management would be nice but it would have to be managed better so that it isn’t the annoying chore of the orioginal game where you are reloading out your entire squad every mission.

      Having said that I really like what I have seen and heard so far. Since I suspect Jake Solomon is his real name I think that he has the right idea about the original and the universe. While it is going to be a different game in a lot of respects he seems to have a good grasp of what made the game great. I’m really looking forward to seeing what he brings to the new game.

    • silgidorn says:

      And btw, I’love being the commander who once were a quartermaster, who tells my soldiers what ammo is best against their overpowdered adversaries. I love to be the specialsist at killing aliens on a almost elegant and very industrious manner. I hate having games removing my options to excel, so people without this passion can play. They have their railroad shooters. Go fetch.

      Don’t get me wrong, Deciding which ammo is used is tactically important. Having to hand clips of actual ammo yourself to each soldier isn’t. Deciding that such ammo is needed in stock is important. Assuring each month that told ammo is getting restocked isn’t.

      Good idea/gameplay thing:
      Take explosives ammo boys! You’ll need that extra hit to take those nasties down. -Could be straight out of that starship troopers book/movie.

      Bad idea/gameplay thing:
      Take ammo boys! Tossing a rifle at baddies isn’t that useful. Could be straight out of Police Academy or, more likely, from that X-com Movie XXV with Carmen Electra.

    • Robin says:

      Yeah it’s true, while professing love left and right they are removing and resizing a lot of things: no TUs*, no inventory, no ammo**, single base, supposedly small squad size… I hope Mr. Solomon doesn’t get angry but this sounds a lot “UFO Lite” to me.

      * The exacts combat mechanics of this game are still obscure, but I can say that the original TUs-based system blows away any move+action system I know of.

      ** The last time (I remember of) ammo were ditched because of “superfluous micromanagement”, we got Deus Ex 2.

    • KilgoreTrout_XL says:

      I’m still pissed about Dylan going electric too.

    • Premium User Badge

      c-Row says:

      The difference between user and press reviews usually seems to be that game journalists give a more objective score, rating the game for what it is rather than what they wanted it to be. Again, a 2.1 score for Modern Warfare 3? That’s hardly objective or realistic.

      But if you insist on them, Civ V scored 8.1 on Gamespot with more than five times the number of votes than on Metacritic. That’s not exactly a “majority of people who disliked” Civ V.

  22. silgidorn says:

    yeah,
    about that metactritic thingie:

    http://www.metacritic.com/game/pc/dragon-age-ii

  23. MCM says:

    I’m surprised people are so positive about these discussions. What we see here is a developer at Firaxis admitting that Firaxis doesn’t really “design” games – they just make them and then add or remove stuff based on whatever. This style of game “design” was obviously an utter disaster with Civ 5 – you have so many careless design choices in a game that lives or dies by the number of hammers it costs to build a Scout. I’m sorry but when you are making games like Civ 5 and XCOM, that attitude that “You never question what you’ve done, the decisions, before the game comes out, because the decisions we make here are based on play” is absolutely unacceptable. If you want to take that attitude to an FPS or an adventure game, fine. Not games any game that is supposed to be a “strategy” game. Can you imagine if the guys making “Chess” were like “yeah we changed the way knights work to be more fun, just based on our playtesting?” No.

    I know the standard objection, which is “games are just supposed to be fun! Who cares about spreadsheets!” And I hate to say it, but the obvious answer is this: if you’re not observant/smart enough to notice an obvious design flaw, that doesn’t affect the game for you, but it ruins it for me. Like in Civ 5, when many people noticed immediately that “Build Wealth” produced less gold than building a unit and then destroying it. Obvious design flaw: “build wealth” is supposed to be more efficient at producing wealth than building a Scout and then destroying the Scout. This is a design flaw. If you never notice it because you can’t do the basic math, or you just never thought to compare the two, then fine, it doesn’t affect you, and you still have fun. But a lot of us had less fun with Civ 5 because the game was riddled with little problems and discrepancies like that. This is what happens when Firaxis designs games based on “play”, and not based on actually knowing what’s going on in their own games.

    • MCM says:

      And actually, let’s just recognize now:

      “In tomorrow’s third and final part, we discuss the thorny issue of why time units were removed”

      The answer is already apparent: you don’t use a tightly-balanced mechanic like “time units” when you’re just designing a game willy-nilly without modeling it on paper first.

    • Premium User Badge

      ffordesoon says:

      Yes, how dare they actually play the game they’re going to try to sell to other people and attempt to make it better. How unprofessional. It’s not like every successful video game developer in the world already does that. They should just implement features they think sound cool without getting a sense of how players will react, because nobody has ever made a bad game that way.

      You do realize that the one example you bring up – the Civ V bit – is actually an argument that they should’ve played the game more, not less, right? Because more extensive play would’ve revealed the issue before the game came out, and they could have fixed it?

      Just checking.

    • Premium User Badge

      ffordesoon says:

      Oh, and BTW? They kinda already have a design document to work from: the original X-COM.

    • sneetch says:

      Of course they design their games. However, the design isn’t carved in stone, it evolves, if something that looked good on paper, so to speak, doesn’t work for whatever reason then it has to change. Now sure they messed up in that case in Civ V but you’re assuming that a rigid design would have prevented it and I’m not so sure it would have.

      Mistakes are made and loopholes aren’t noticed, that’s why games have balance patches.

    • MCM says:

      Guys, no. Read again what he said:

      “You never question what you’ve done, the decisions, before the game comes out”

      No, it doesn’t mean they didn’t play Civ 5 enough. It meant they literally didn’t even THINK ABOUT IT.

      “like we do not have paper discussions about Firaxis, nobody gets to write a design on paper and say ‘see why this is so great’ because those conversations can go on forever.”

      OH GOD. So because a conversation could “go on forever” you don’t do that? You don’t, you know, establish a time-frame in advance “We’ll be working purely on theoretical design for x months and then go with our best stuff?” Because it’s a deep topic, YOU NEVER HAVE THE DISCUSSION?

      This game probably won’t be good – they might accidentally make the best game ever, but they sure as hell won’t do it on purpose.

      No time units, no stat-based character progression, no individual character load-outs, no multiple bases, no changing your squad size. I guess we you don’t really design the game from scratch, you can get rid of those things.

      (Which means, ROFLCOPTER at the idea that they’re actually using the original game as a blueprint. Obviously not.)

      Instead, we’re getting pretty little animations of our characters having beer and playing pool in between missions. AWESOME.

      This game is going to be another Civ 5: massive community backlash with a fanboy counter-backlash, 95% game journalists saying the game is teh best evar, and 60% of the user reviews negative.

    • Chris D says:

      MCM

      I think you’re misinterpreting him. It’s not a case of refusing to think about things, it’s that rather than spending ages discussing whether a design decision will work in theory instead they go ahead and prototype it and discover whether it works in practice.

    • KilgoreTrout_XL says:

      @MCM “This game probably won’t be good”

      Considering that you have been cherry-picking snippets of an interview to fit a predetermined narrative, I’m not surprised that that’s your conclusion. I saw some general statements that tried to summarize an entire studio’s thought process over a 4-year development period into 3 or 4 sentences from a guy who is clearly a fan of the game. I didn’t see a reason to get ALLCAPS pissed about guys playing pool.

      I think it’s cool that these guys went out on a (4 year) limb to try to resurrect a franchise 15 years dead though.

  24. Wooly Wugga Wugga says:

    It sounds like they’re doing an excellent job over there at Firaxis. So much so that I’m really looking forward to finding out about the new systems and aliens, etc. that they are introducing.

    I think the franchise is in good hands here.

  25. Beelzebud says:

    Where do we pre-order? ;)

  26. Kieron Gillen says:

    Honestly, this just sounds great.

    The thought occurs to me though: If I was developing XCOM: Enemy Unknown, I’d steal the experimentation mechanic from Awful Green Things From Outer Space.

    KG

  27. PJMendes says:

    I just noticed that the Heavy soldier has a Zangief hairstyle. Not sure if that is just coincidence or homage to the Guile hairstyle they all rocked in the first X-Com.

  28. Bfox says:

    As long as I can actually FAIL a mission I’ll be happy, I’m tired of games scooting me back to the start of a mission until I do it right.

  29. Premium User Badge

    X_kot says:

    I’ve seen a number of people cite Civ V as evidence that Firaxis will bungle the streamlining of X-Com; however, as a (slightly heretical) counter-example, I would argue that Civilization:Revolution was a masterstroke of redesigning a complex PC game for the consoles. Yes, Revolution in no way replaces Civ IV, but it distills the systems at work into something playable with a gamepad while still being enjoyable! The X-Com remake is more of a reinterpretation, and so long as they retain their design mindset from Revolution, I think the team will find a way to streamline the original experience without losing the game’s soul.

    • Deformed_Transformed says:

      I respect your opinion here, however I think Civ Rev was the worst strategy game ever made, hands down, with zero exceptions.

    • Premium User Badge

      X_kot says:

      I’d be curious to hear what put you off Rev. It is certainly a huge departure, but the game is cohesive and makes it easy to access information. Did you feel there were too few meaningful choices, or perhaps that too many intricate systems were removed?

    • Premium User Badge

      c-Row says:

      Not being able to talk to the barbarians?

    • Deformed_Transformed says:

      I think back to Civ 2 when I say that because I believe it was the first Civ game introduced to console by Sid, all the content was intact, the micromanagment aspects were there, so i know they have the capability to bring more of the content over to platform. Civ Rev for me is dumbed beyond belief, micromanagement is completely gone, the game moves at a frantic pace through time, there are zero game customization options, and diplomacy as a factor in the game doesn’t exist. Almost feels like a tower defense game to me with some very superficial city building elements. Laughably easy too. I honestly thought it must have been made for small children. As a huge Sid fan i picked it up and felt really cheated as I am a fan of the entire series, including V. So for me, it wasn’t a strategy game at all, it was something hybrid and way off base. The DLC was horrid also, but everyone has their game, I can see where it hit a nitch with a breed of fans, just not me, at all. I hate it. Sorry.

  30. Premium User Badge

    Diziet Sma says:

    Cydonia in one week? Wow when I first played UFO enemy unknown it took me weeks and weeks. Obviously school got in the way but still, it’s not an easy game.

  31. Lemming says:

    I hope Firaxis are reading this, so here goes:

    Please add an option replay a ground mission cinematically, showing all the decisions we made in real time with the camera focusing on the action as it happens, and allow us to export it as a video file. I’d LOVE to see that.

    And finally, after a ground mission can we have a Cannon Fodder/Left 4 Dead style stats credits scroll for the soldiers we used in the field? ie. Bob was 45% accurate, Steve killed 3 Chrysallids etc?

    • Premium User Badge

      ffordesoon says:

      That would be BRILLIANT. Make it happen, Firaxis.

    • Veracity says:

      You can’t map a turn-based game to a real-time replay without it most likely looking severely peculiar. That’s a (the?) reason a lot of people prefer some kind of pausable or forced-pausing real-time.

    • Lemming says:

      @Veracity I was under the impression that was the case (real time with pause I mean).

  32. hosndosn says:

    I hate how hardcore fans are always accused of being afraid of change. I’m as hardcore an X-COM fan as it gets and my biggest worry so far is that this sounds like a 1:1 clone of the original X-COM… only with half of the micromanagement removed (and maybe a handful of new units or something). Where’s the new stuff? The things that make you drool over the new strategic possibilities? “Core elements” my ass, the core element of X-COM is an obscene amount of strategic depth and micromanagement. That’s why people like the game. Not because aliens are scary if they pop up in the dark.

    Apocalypse actually was an excellent sequel. It introduced a working real-time mode that didn’t take away anything from the depth. It expanded the dynamically destructible environment (you could take down an entire building by blowing up the base). It had a unique style for aliens that (despite the ugly late-90s pre-rendered graphics) had its charm.

    Apocalypse was X-COM 2. This looks like X-COM 0.9 with 2006 graphics.

  33. wererogue says:

    I’m an X-COM fanboy and I’m right up for this.

  34. Deformed_Transformed says:

    Someone throw a quote out there where solomon says XCOM only gets one base?? I must have missed it. Also the quote where inventory is thrown out…

    • Deformed_Transformed says:

      I’m not calling anyone a liar here, but I am calling you out to back up your statements pertaining to what content has been cut from the original with quotes or something factual.

    • Premium User Badge

      c-Row says:

      IIRC the “one base only plus satellites” bit was included in the printed article in Game Informer.

  35. oldkc says:

    X-com Apoc made some excellent advancements, it seems a waste to make a ‘new interpretation’ without considering all adaptations, progressions, and even mistakes…

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  37. wodin says:

    Sounds great so far..however I want to know about the class system..as it sounds more like Commandos, more of a puzzle element to it…

  38. Deformed_Transformed says:

    I am just as much a diehard fan of the original as many of the people here, and after reading every article I could find, and looking at screen shots it is easy to see that this isn’t a carbon copy of the game we all love. Some unpopular changes are being implemented, an alien is headed to the bone yard, and quite a few endeared bits of content are evidently leaving the franchise for now but I think that maybe some of us are missing the big picture. The XCOM franchise is back!! and hopefully its just the beginning. I will be the first to admit that I have had some serious doubtsand concerns since word of the upcoming release, however when you pause for a minute and let it all sink in this installment sounds pretty F***’N cool! The graphics look pretty tight and some of the content Solomon talks about like satellites, new aliens, the revamp of the global economy, some random and scripted cut scenes showing what you did, soldier customizations, and a totally updated AI (thats a big one), and boat loads of other new features and content. S**T man what more do you want from this guy really? We don’t know all the details, and n oone here knows the massive amount of content that is in this game. Infact we know very little. Way I see it after bitching and moaning about it myself ever since the GI cover came out and thinking back to the minor studios or individuals who failed miserably at attempting to revive this thing before, I came to one conclusion. If I truly am a hardcore fan of this game or even the genre then I am going to support it, and if you’re a fan then you kind of have to as well, because there is a major studio behind this for the first time, and a self proclaimed lifelong fan of the original XCOM game(S) at the helm, and frankly probably XCOM’s last shot at resurrection AND redemption. The games gonna be beyond awesome period. I should be proud of this man and his team, and Firaxis for that matter for taking a chance on this title. I’ll buy the XCOM shooter too because it looks farout and crazy.

  39. 2late2die says:

    Where’s part 3?? It’s been more than 24 hours since I’ve read part 2 and I’m jonesing for another fix. Give it nao! :)

    • TormDK says:

      I was just going to say that, WE WANT PART 3!11!!!!!1111 – must have!

  40. jmtd says:

    The whole XCOM/X-COM thing has infected RPS’s tag system. Part one was tagged XCOM, but part two X-COM (and neither the other way around).